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The Impact of Intellectual Property Rights on Healthcare Inequality: An Analysis of the Brazilian Case and Myriad Genetics.

The Impact of Intellectual Property Rights on Healthcare Inequality: An Analysis of the Brazilian Case and Myriad Genetics.

The prevalence of inequality in our society does not only have moral repercussions but also material costs as well as endangering human life. The fight against inequality has been difficult as it is fortified by various forces, politics and certain policies like intellectual property regimes inclusive. Disparities results from manipulation of social as well as political situations exhibiting itself in health, politics and social institutions. This paper discusses the manifestation of inequality in the health care sector promoted by intellectual property rights, corruption and other unfair policies as observed by Biehl and Stiglitz in their articles with reference to the fight against HIV/AIDS in Brazil and the case, Association for Molecular Pathology vs. Myriad Genetics respectively.

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Stiglitz (2013) maintains that intellectual property rights, pertaining to medical field especially, do not benefit humans but threatens their existence. Patenting of medical innovations results to monopolies in the sector that in turn leads to increase in the cost of medication making accessibility to quality health care contingent to wealth thus promoting inequality. Patenting also hinders further research and improvements into the sector, a realization that saw its abolition in Brazil leading to better ARVS for AIDS victims at affordable costs as indicated by Biehl (2009).

Stiglitz (2013) condemns the immorality associated with intellectual property regimes in the health care sector. The act of patenting medical innovation is selfish and unfair as innovation often results from the development of other individuals’ ideas. The rules and regulations governing patenting exalts corporations and the wealthy at the expense of the poor since the major interest is not individuals’ well- being but higher returns thus not economically beneficial as well. Biehl (2009) is also unhappy with the unjust selection criteria like the computerized register of individual viral loads associated with the distribution of scarce resources concerning AIDS care for victims. He claims that the poor and marginalized AIDS victims often lose their lives as a results of neglect as they seem to be sidelined by policies governing provision of care.

The articles urges nations to develop effective policies aimed at protecting citizens’ rights to life and minimize both social and economic disparities. For instance, the court’s ruling against Myriad Genetics indicates the justice systems ability to protect the disadvantaged. Other nations also ought to emulate Brazilian’s spirit of promoting health equity. Brazil is commitment to the fight against AIDS that has seen it readjust its policies to accommodate all victims and encourage research and innovation in the discovery of the cure and ARVS amid several social and economic challenges steered by inequality as implied by Biehl (2009).

In summary, the field of medicine is dynamic as it requires constant innovations and improvements to match the ever changing disease patterns and mushrooming new diseases that is on the rise. However, patenting of innovation minimizes the chances of effectively securing cure for these diseases as well as accessibility to health care thus is a threat to human survival alongside other injustices in the health care policies that sidelines the poor and marginalized patients in the allocation of health care resources as in the case of Brazil. Since unfair policies are driven by malicious desires to earn excess profits, it is important for the government to come up with favorable policies that eliminates their existence like funding research thus owning them. The justice system should also play an active role in protecting the minorities’ interest against social and political manipulation by powerful wealthy individuals.


Biehl, J. (2009).The Activist State: Global Pharmaceuticals, AIDS, and Citizenship in Brazil. Retrieved from http://joaobiehl.net/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/Biehl-2004-Social_Text.pdf

Stiglitz, E.J. (2013). How Intellectual Property Reinforces Inequality- The New York Times. Retrieved from http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/07/14/how-intellectual-property-reinforces-inequality/?_r=0

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